There’s a sucker born every minute.
“Convergence” has been a buzzword in technology circles for a while now. Well, smartphones converged with pustular adolescent skins when two companies independently started to market smartphone apps that claimed to be able to cure acne. AcnePwner (“Kill ACNE with this simple, yet powerful tool!) attracted 3,300 downloads at 99c a pop, and AcneApp sold 11,600 at $1.99. Here is part of AcneApp’s blurb.
This app was developed by a dermatologist. A study published by the British Journal of Dermatology showed blue and red light treatments eliminated p-acne bacteria (a major cause of acne) and reduces skin blemishes by 76%.
I can’t imagine it would take more than 5 minutes to write an app that turns a smartphone screen red for a few seconds, then blue for another few seconds, repeat until the app is closed or the battery goes flat. $23,084 isn’t a bad return for that amount of work.
Obviously, neither app actually works, so the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) stepped in and came to an agreement with the creators of both AcnePwner and AcneApp to pull them from the app stores and pay a fine.
I wonder whether AcneApp outsold AcnePwner because their advertising said it was “developed by a dermatologist” or because it was more expensive. I suspect a bit of both.
Grumpy Old Man by Mark Widdicombe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License